Understandably conferences happen all year, but from March to June is a very popular time for most conferences.
For example the ten largest sales conferences take place during this period.
- AA-ISP Digital Sales World 2019
- Sandler Sales and Leadership Summit
- TOPO Sales Summit
- SiriusDecisions Sales Leadership Exchange
- Unleash 2019
As a majority of companies figure out which reps to send where, a few are thinking about starting their own events/conferences. Creating an event within your industry, is an amazing idea.
Not only does it help with establishing your brand within your industry, but it really helps with helping set your organization apart from the rest.
So with hundreds of conferences happening every year, how can you make yours stand out?!
After speaking with a bunch of C-Level executives from various industries, who all have either participated with many conferences or attended.
I began to notice a consensus of 6 attributes that can help you shape your conference from just okay to attendees saying
1. Understand Your Audience:
I know a lot of you are thinking, “yeah of course!”
But this needs to be emphasized, understanding your audience is massively important. A lot of times conferences tend to forget that point.
They just haphazardly throw together an event. I know we make jokes at the expense of Billy McFarland and the Fyre Festival disaster, but there are many conferences that are just as disorganized as that festival.
I once attended an event for Global Warming in New Jersey, the one aspect they nailed was the concept of reducing our footprint. That theme was amazing, but as I entered the event everyone was just trying to sell me a product. Even the keynote speakers weren’t really addressing an issue, they were mostly promoting their products.
Which brings me to my next point:
2. Set Strict Guidelines:
From what I’ve gained the best conferences have hidden guidelines everyone follows, basically they make sure they vet everyone they bring in from the sponsors to the speakers. They want to make sure that every attendee that walks through that door will get an experience they won’t find anywhere else.
A great conference is one where you go and become inspired to accomplish whatever it was you were seeking answers for. You want to make sure not everyone is just pitching their product, but more so helping create an experience for the attendees.
I have a strong belief that every speaker at a conference shouldn’t even be allowed to pitch their product, they can mention it, but not pitch it.
Then they will just stick to speaking about issues and different ways to solve that specific issue. Each speaker should be there to act as a mentor to the attendees someone they can look to for guidance.
3. Nurture An Experience:
This is what life is all about. We all constantly are seeking new experiences.
So when you start to put together your event/conference think about what you are providing your attendees. If it’s something they can find at any conference how will you ever stand out?
“Oh, there will be alcohol and food? Wow! That’s amazing! Very unique”
Don’t be like everyone else, make this event apart of who you are, what your organization represents. More importantly think about what the purpose for this conference is.
If you are just doing it for the exposure, stop! You can gain exposure in so many ways why give yourself the headache of throwing an event.
The reasons tons of conferences fail is because of disorganization and being ill prepared. What makes planning events so difficult is that anything can happen at anytime and you need to be prepared.
4. Be Prepared:
Remember this? Ahh to be 7 again!
Now, I’m not trying to be your mom or scout leader. But this has been something that’s been said to us since we were kids.
It’s as important now as it was back then.
5. Focus On The Audience:
Most conferences are built on the concept of the theme, everything is built around the theme.
But the real case is your audience is everything, so when putting together your conference keep them in the front of your mind.
It’s amazing to have a theme, but if you are targeting a certain demographic and they don’t care for your theme...what’s the point?
So before you start planning make sure you have a check-list this will help when building the experience for your conference.
In the checklist identify who your audience is: (E.G.)
- What do they like
- What conferences they usually attend (can help with building the theme)
- Problems they face
- Influencers they usually tend to listen to
Anything that can identify who they are you need to know.
Finally make sure you pay attention to the experience, but do not forget to focus on marketing.
A lot of times great conferences can fall flat because they spent too much time focusing on the event not the marketing and no one shows up.
And your marketing needs to focus on the value being provided to them.
6. Provide Value:
Finally, Jeremy sums it up best people go to events to network and learn.
This isn’t a party it’s a way for attendees to better themselves, they want to either learn how to expand their business or create new opportunities.
So when you sit down to plan out your event make sure each speaker has actionable takeaways and they are not the same.
You want diversity within your conference not just in people, but also in thought.
And you want to make sure every aspect of your conference allows and nurtures attendees to network.
At the end of the day your job as an organization is to help others grow or better their life in some way.
Once you are able to do that properly you will have an event or conference that will provide an experience people never forget and will want to share with their friends.